TORONTO (CelebrityAccess) – The legendary Downchild Blues Band are hitting the road across North America in celebration of their 50th anniversary.
Kicking things off with a special show at Grossman’s Tavern in Toronto where it all began, the year-long tour takes the Canadian blues icons throughout North America, and features a special appearance by Blues Brother Dan Aykroyd for a main stage, headline performance at the Rochester International Jazz Festival on June 21.
Named after a Sonny Boy Williamson II song, Downchild’s story began in Toronto in 1969 when bandleader, songwriter, guitarist and harmonica player Donnie “Mr. Downchild” Walsh was a mere teenager and got his first taste of blues at a sweet 16 birthday party for his girlfriend. “I was absolutely amazed by the music and, like most people who heard blues, started looking for more,” says Donnie, who soon discovered artists like Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King.
Inspired by those classic sounds, Downchild launched an unstoppable career that has included 18 albums, countless awards and sold-out shows around the globe. The band’s 1971 debut, Bootleg, one of the first independent albums in Canada, was recorded in a makeshift studio in a parking garage at Rochdale College. Soon after, they scored their first smash hit with a jumping version of Big Joe Turner’s classic “Flip Flop & Fly.”
“I was pretty lucky to get a hit record just a few years after starting the band,” remembers Donnie. “As I like to say, if you have a hit record, the rest is geography. You just get in the van and go, and that’s what we did. For the longest time, we played 250 to 300 dates a year.”
Downchild came to international prominence as the inspiration for “Saturday Night Live” television stars Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi’s hit film, The Blues Brothers. In fact, two Downchild songs, “Shotgun Blues” and “(I Got Everything I Need) Almost” were even covered on The Blues Brothers’ 1978 multi-platinum album, Briefcase Full of Blues.
The current lineup of Downchild features some of the most well-respected musicians in Canada, who have performed together for over 25 years: lead singer and harmonica player Chuck Jackson; Pat Carey on tenor sax; Mike Fitzpatrick on drums; Gary Kendall on bass; and former American super-group rocker, Michael Fonfara (of Rhinoceros/Lou Reed fame) on keyboards.
50TH ANNIVERSARY TOUR DATES:
06/19 Grossman’s Tavern (SOLD OUT) Toronto, ON
06/21 Rochester International Jazz Festival Rochester, NY
07/20 Porquis Rock N Blues Festival Porquis Junction, ON
08/17 Chenango Blues Festival Norwich, NY
08/29 Charles W. Stockey Centre Parry Sound, ON
09/28 Regent Theatre Oshawa, ON
10/18 McPherson Playhouse Victoria, BC
10/19 Sid Williams Theatre Courtenay, BC
10/20 The Port Theatre Nanaimo, BC
10/22 Tidemark Theatre Campbell River, BC
10/24 Kelowna Community Theatre Kelowna, BC
10/25 Charles Bailey Theatre Trail, BC
10/26 Key City Theatre Cranbrook, BC
10/30 Memorial Centre Theatre Red Deer, AB
11/01 Festival Place Sherwood Park, AB
11/05 Vic Juba Theatre Lloydminster, AB
11/08 Bella Concert Hall Calgary, AB
11/09 Esplanade Theatre Medicine Hat, AB
11/12 Lyric Theatre Swift Current, SK
11/16 E.A. Rawlinson Centre Prince Albert, SK
11/21 FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre St. Catharines, ON
11/22 Showplace Performance Centre Peterborough, ON
11/23 Orillia Opera House Orillia, ON
03/27/20 River Run Centre Guelph, ON
04/23/20 Capitol Theatre Moncton, NB
05/07/20 Richmond Hill Performing Arts Centre Richmond Hill, ON